On Friday 3rd June, 61 delegates gathered at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen to attend a conference celebrating the 30th anniversary of Lough Hyne being designated as Europeâ€™s first statutory marine nature reserve and the Republic of Irelandâ€™s only marine reserve.
Delegates consisted of past and present researchers along with management officials from National Parks and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency and Cork County Council as well as local stakeholder representatives and members of the general public interested in Lough Hyne.
Speakers came from Ireland, UK and USA and covered a wide range of topics showing the interdisciplinary nature of past and present studies at the Lough, as well as how technological advances have increased our ability to study previously difficult areas and species.
The conference has generated a number of potential future research collaborations as well as suggesting mechanisms to increase dialogue between researchers, management officials and stakeholders as to how research may be more tailored to help meet legislative requirements and to look at the role and responsibilities of stakeholders at Lough Hyne.
In addition, suggestions were made to possibly centralise the archive of previous research publications and reports for future researchers. It was also suggested that we look into the formation of a Lough Hyne charitable fund to help support future research and education / outreach activities.
To coincide with 30th anniversary conference, Terri Kearney from the Skibbereen Heritage Centre (in conjunction with UCC) produced a pictorial history book entitled â€œLough Hyne â€“ the marine researchers in picturesâ€.
This is a stunning book with over 300 photos from 1886 to the present day and not only is it a great testament to the many researchers that have worked at Lough Hyne, but is also a superb insight into West Cork heritage over the last century.
These books are available from Rob McAllen in the School of BEES or from the Skibbereen Heritage Centre.
Finally, I would like to thank all the delegates and invited guests who attended the conference itself and the evening conference dinner for making such an enjoyable occasion.
Dr Rob McAllen
Chair of Organising Committee, Lough Hyne @ 30 Conference
School of BEES, University College Cork